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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 30 January 2023


CONGRATULATIONS to all Upper Hunter Electorate 2023 Australia Day Award recipients, who have been recognised for the contribution to their community.

Retired Muswellbrook pharmacist Richard French awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division of the Australia Day Honours List.

Broke Residents Community Organisation president Mick McCardle named Singleton Citizen of the Year and Lachlan Fleming received Singleton’s Young Achiever of the Year.

Muswellbrook Shire had two Citizen of the Year award winners revealed on Australia Day at Denman with Uncle Glen Morris and Jeff Wolfgang named the recipients.

Merriwa Citizen of the Year Rob Tindall was also recognised as Upper Hunter Shire Citizen of the Year and Hamish Guiana honoured with the Upper Hunter Shire Young Citizen of the Year award.

Social justice campaigner and Martins Creek Quarry Action Group's James Ashton and Dungog High School student leader Gwen Rumble named Dungog Shire’s Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year respectively.


Students are returning to schools across the Upper Hunter Electorate this week with plenty happening at our public schools as we begin term one of 2023.

Pupils will have access to free menstrual hygiene with dispensers installed to support young women overcome barriers in accessing menstrual hygiene products.

The Department of Education’s recently launched new digital communication tool, the NSW Education Parent App, has several new features this year making it even easier for parents and carers to stay in touch with the latest news, and get emergency updates from their child’s school.

Plus, there has been maintenance and minor capital projects completed at some schools during the summer holidays with the Local Trade Scheme, offering local tradies the opportunity to take on jobs valued up to $50,000.


Merriwa’s 2023 Young Citizen of the Year Jorji Taaffe has been selected among the 18 young leaders from across NSW to represent our community on the fourth official Regional Youth Taskforce.

The ministerial advisory group will provide operational and policy advice to the state government on behalf of their peers.

The taskforce was selected from more than 140 applicants from each of the state’s nine regions and will officially meet four times throughout the year to discuss issues impacting regional youth.

During these meetings, Jorji will have the opportunity meet with NSW government representatives including the Minister for Regional Youth and cabinet members, to share her thoughts on the NSW Regional Youth Framework pillars: work ready, wellbeing, connectivity and community.

For more information on the Regional Youth Taskforce, visit:


I encourage seniors living in the Upper Hunter Electorate to apply for the state government’s Regional Seniors Travel Card with applications now open for a fourth year.

Since the card was introduced in 2020, more than 20,000 applications have been made by seniors across the electorate with cards valued at over $5 million issued.

The $250 pre-paid Visa card can be used on fuel, taxis, electric charging stations, pre-booked NSW TrainLink regional trains and coaches, helping those eligible with the cost of getting from A to B.

Applications will close on November 30 with seniors able to apply online at, by visiting their local Service NSW or calling 1800 569 070.


The Hunter region has received 95 medical graduate interns as part of the record intake of almost 1,100 interns who recently started work in NSW public hospitals.

I want to extend a warm welcome to the class of 2023 and thank them for choosing a rewarding career in health, especially the 10 working at the New Maitland Hospital, who I am sure, will meet some of our Upper Hunter Electorate patients.

Interns are medical graduates who have completed their medical degree and are required to complete a supervised year of practice to become independent practitioners.

They receive two-year contracts to rotate between metropolitan, regional and rural hospitals to ensure the diversity of their experience and will rotate across different specialties during the intern year, including surgery, medicine and emergency medicine.


Workers in high-risk settings are urged by NSW Health to consider the safety of others and stay home for at least seven days if they test positive to COVID-19.

It’s recommended you stay home until you have no symptoms to protect staff, patients, residents and clients in high-risk settings such as aged care, health care and disability care.

The latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 21 January showed that despite a decline in the recent wave of COVID-19 notifications that there is still a highly mixed group of variants circulating.

Hunter New England had 958 of the 6,997 people diagnosed with COVID-19, including 44 of the 282 people admitted to hospital and 15 of the 124 COVID-19 deaths reported for the week.

NSW Health’s advice is to stay home if you have any cold or flu symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 with more information available at;


Parents whose children attend preschool programs at Long Day Care settings will enjoy subsidised fees, following the introduction of the new $1.3 billion Start Strong Affordable Preschool Program.

Research has shown that preschool is where the building blocks for lifelong success are established, making it vital that we support families in accessing quality early childhood education.

All NSW families will be eligible for fee relief for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds attending a community or mobile preschool, for 4 and 5-year-olds attending preschool in a long day care setting on top of their Child Care Subsidy payment, and the equivalent of five days a fortnight of affordable preschool fee relief for all children in Department of Education preschools.

To access preschool fee relief, parents are encouraged to speak to their service with families enrolled in a community preschool or long day care service to complete a declaration form and nominate the service from which they would like to receive the fee relief.


Recent school leavers as well as people considering a career change can currently apply for NSW Health’s Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Scholarships and the Enrolled Nurse Scholarships.

The Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetship Program applications are being accept until 5 February and the Enrolled Nurse Scholarships applications close on 12 February.

The Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Cadetship Program, and Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Scholarships provide Aboriginal people with the opportunity to receive financial and professional support during their university studies.

The Enrolled Nurse Scholarships offer a position in the Diploma of Nursing program, cover course fees and lead to employment as an enrolled nurse in a NSW Health facility, following standard recruitment and registration processes.


Transport for NSW is increasing the number and improving the quality of heavy vehicle rest stops including potential upgrades for Putty Road Bulga and the Golden Highway near Cassilis.

The Heavy Vehicle Rest Stop Improvement Program includes a comprehensive audit of the state road network and the existing and potential provision of heavy vehicle rest stops against the Austroads Guidelines.

Heavy vehicle drivers' feedback is now needed with drivers and operators invited to share their perspective to ensure the work meets the current and future needs of drivers and the growing freight task by identifying any gaps in the network.

Feedback can be provided until 28 February at;


The new Regional and Local Roads Repair program will provide even more support for councils to continue to carry out urgent repair work.

A $500 million boost announced by the NSW Government is to help metropolitan and regional councils tackle the mammoth task of repairing the State’s road network.

The $500 million is on top of the $50 million already provided by the state government to help regional councils carry out emergency pothole repairs.

Applications will be simple and the cash available immediately so councils can get on with the job of urgently restoring the state’s roads and have repairs done by 31 December this year.


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